Dustin Poirier says he will clash again with Conor McGregor “whether it’s in the octagon or on the sidewalk” after taking exception to his rival’s more sinister comments in the build-up to the American’s remarkable victory at UFC 264 on Sunday.
Poirier, who with the win set up a championship bout with lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, defeated McGregor in their trilogy bout at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas when the latter reportedly fractured his left tibia seconds out from the end of the first round. The official result was victory by doctor’s stoppage.
Poirier came into Sunday's encounter on the back of defeating McGregor by second-round TKO in their rematch in Abu Dhabi in January, and had remained largely unfazed by the former two-division champion’s attempted mind games throughout the week leading up to the fight.
However, Poirier said he was not amused by some of McGregor’s rhetoric, which included repeated threats to his life. The Irishman, who the UFC reported would undergo surgery on Sunday morning US time, had also targeted Poirier’s wife Jolie in the build-up – and even continued with that line of attack post-bout as he sat on the octagon floor with his leg in a brace.
Speaking to gathered media at the wrap-up press conference, Poirier said: “We are going to fight again, whether it’s in the octagon or on the sidewalk. You don’t say the stuff he said.
“My wife is solid as a rock. I’m not worried about that. That’s noise. He was saying he was going to kill me. You don’t say stuff like that: that he was going to murder me.
“You don’t say stuff about people’s wives either, but I know that that’s zero chance. But there is a chance somebody could die. And you don’t say that. You don’t wish that on anybody.”
Poirier added, when referencing the UFC’s in-house vlog series that runs throughout fight week: “Conor said some nasty stuff that didn’t make it on ‘Embedded’. Maybe when the behind-the-scenes for this fight airs, you’ll see him on the ground still saying some really bad stuff.
“But even that stuff being said, I don’t wish serious harm like that on nobody. The guy’s got kids. I want him to go home safe to his family. I pray before these fights.
McGregoir v Poirier in Abu Dhabi
“Every time before I walk through that octagon door, I’m praying, not for me to win, I’m praying that we both get out of there safe. I know what I’m going to try to do to him and I know what he’s going to try to do with me.”
While UFC president Dana White suggested afterwards that a fourth match-up between the two would eventually take place – Poirier is 2-1 up in the series, with McGregor winning the initial bout, in 2014 – but the former lightweight interim title-holder is next in line for a shot at Oliveira.
Poirier said that, although he fully intends to face the Brazilian next, he wants to first take some time away from the sport.
“I feel like I’ve been preparing for a fight since last year,” he said. “Because I was getting ready for the fight with Conor in January, I fought him, and as soon as that fight ended I knew that was next.
“So I got home from Abu Dhabi and started training for that fight… the last thing I want to do right now is go home and sign a contract and start getting ready right away. We’ll see. I just need to get home and think about some things and decompress and spend some time with my family.”
McGregor, now 22-6 in pro MMA, has lost three of his past four fights in the UFC. For the first time as a professional, he has suffered successive defeats. He turns 33 on Wednesday.
Poirier, 32 and boasting a 28-6 pro record, had given his opponent a barrage of punishment during the first round at T-Mobile Arena, and was up on all three judges' scorecards before the fight was waved off. Two had it 10-8. Poirier claimed McGregor's leg was compromised at the beginning of the fight, when he checked one of the former featherweight and lightweight champion's kicks.
“It sucks, man,” Poirier said. “I was going to beat the guy if his leg would’ve held up. I don’t know, I’m not sure yet, I need to digest it. It’s not a good feeling. I won, and I feel like what happened was because of something I did, but it’s not like I went out there and submitted him or put him away.
“There’s going to be so many voices, and so many opinions, saying, ‘Ah, you didn’t win’. I know that. I know the MMA fans, I know the MMA game. But I’m going back home to my family. And you guys can check my record tomorrow – and it’s a win.”
Poirier said, should he defeat Oliveira and finally claim the lightweight belt, that McGregor would need to win at least another fight to get the chance to then contest the title.